The Northwest High School girls became the first Montgomery County girls team to ever win a 4A state title in the 36 year history of the meet. Olivia Ekpone won the 100, 200, and 400-meter dashes and clocked a nation-leading state record time of 53.15 in the 400. Britt Eckerstrom won the 800 in 2:12.32 and the Northwest girls swept all four relays with a state record run of 3:46.22 in the 4x400.
This will forever be remembered as the team with Eckerstrom and Ekpone, but Saturday’s results show this team is far more than two star athletes. In the 4x100 relay, Northwest was looking for no more than six or eight points. On paper, Sheridan Allen, Hayley Henshaw, Camry Torian, and Kendra Meredith were not the favorites. Not only did they win the state title, they broke the school record with a time of 47.52. Therefore, Eckerstrom, and Ekpone will not be a part of the school record book in this event.
“We had some big things we wanted to accomplish, but eight for eight [eight individual/relay state titles]…to sweep the relays…I’m still trying to get my head around that,” said Coach Beth Muehl.
On the 4x100, Muehl said, “We knew we could be top three but I’m looking at the 4x1 and thinking there is a freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior and they ran a school record without Britt, Olivia, and India…They step on the track and do what’s best for their teammates which is how I trained as an athlete and the attitude I try to instill in them. It’s just amazing.”
Coach Dave Knight said the 4x100 girls drilled handoffs like crazy leading up to the state meet, knowing that they didn’t have the top foot speed between the handoffs.
Muehl could barely speak by the end of the meet, partly due to screaming all day and partly due to emotion. “I’m looking around seeing all the smiles,” she said at one point before losing her train of thought.
Ekpone had little competition in the 100 and 200 and cruised to victories in each event (11.85 and 24.67). The 400-meter dash was a little more exciting as Old Mill’s Alexis Franklin challenged Ekpone on the second curve. Franklin created separation for a brief time but slowly started coming back to Ekpone. Ekpone powered down the home stretch for a personal best time of 53.15. The time was a personal best by nearly half a second. It was also a state record by 0.07 seconds and a nation-leading time for high school athletes this season. Franklin finished in 54.26.
While Ekpone completed high school with 14 individual state titles, Britt Eckerstrom still had no individual state titles entering Saturday’s competition. She admitted this was something that she really wanted to take care of before graduating. Thinking about the indoor 500-meter state title that slipped away, she got off the line today with every intention of running away from the field. She created a huge lead by the first 200 meters, after which the rest of the field never came within four seconds of her. She clocked a time of 2:12.32 which was a slight improvement over her regional time and ranks #7 on the state all-time list. The state title was a suitable gift on her 18th birthday.
The 4x400 relay was a blowout after Tiara Wellman handed the baton to Eckerstrom after a 57 split. Eckerstrom split 57, Knight split 59, and Ekpone split 53 for an overall state record time of 3:46.22. The time currently ranks #12 on Dyestat’s national list.
The Northwest girls are tentatively planning to attend New Balance Outdoor Nationals and compete in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays.
From top left: Achankeng Acha-Morfaw, Olivia Ekpone, Camry Torian, Tiara Wellman, Naomi Sheppard, India Knight, Coach Beth Muehl, Kendra Meredith, Hayley Henshaw, Britt Eckerstrom, and Sheridan Allen
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|Congrats NW, amazing
|Congrats to NW and also to the other MoCo girls teams who did well: in 4A, Wootton (3rd), Sherwood (5th), and WJ (6th); in 3A, Kennedy (2nd).
|Congrats to the Knights for coaching up the sprinters and relay teams. Without you the NW girls would have been good, but with you they were GREAT!
The work, dedication and love the Knights put into NW, both the girls and the boys teams, goes largely unnoticed so Coach M can take the credit, but those who know, know.
Congrats to the Knights for being the Kings of NW Track.
Congrats to the NW girls team for making the entire NW community proud.
Congrats to the NW Boys for giving it your all and getting a top 10 finish!
|GO TITANS Achankeng Acha-Morfaw, Olivia Ekpone, Camry Torian, Tiara Wellman, Naomi Sheppard, India Knight, Kendra Meredith